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A Look At Authentic Rajasthani Cuisine

The cuisine of Rajasthan in Northern India is predominately vegetarian, but meat dishes can be found and typically use lamb or chicken. The dishes are rich due to dairy products being used in place of water when cooking as the state is arid. Spices, pulses and sweet dishes feature heavily, and sweet dishes are eaten as an appetiser rather than saved until the end of a meal. Gram flour is used to make a variety of snacks and breads and chutney with lots of spices is served as an accompaniment to most meals. Here's an overview of four popular spices and four authentic Rajasthani dishes:

Commonly Used Spices

Rajasthani cuisine is packed with flavour and a wide variety of spices are used, but the following four spices appear most frequently in traditional dishes:

  • Fenugreek - These small seeds are added to traditional chutneys and add a little sweetness thanks to their delicate flavour, which is akin to caramelised sugar.
  • Cardamom - Cardamom seeds have a flavour that's not unlike ginger. They are added to both savoury and sweet dishes and work particularly well in dishes that contain dried fruit.
  • Cumin - The slightly smoky aroma of freshly toasted and ground cumin is used to flavour flatbreads and adds a slight heat to creamy curry dishes.
  • Asafoetida - This spice is commonly used in lentil dishes and imparts an oniony flavour.

Authentic Rajasthani Dishes

These four traditional dishes are worth looking out for:

  • Kadhi - This is a unique dish that consists of vegetable pakoras in a thick, spicy sauce. The sauce consists of sour yogurt and gram flour, and it's seasoned with fenugreek and mustard seeds. It can be eaten with steamed rice or you can use roti, which is a flatbread, to scoop up the sauce.
  • Chana Dal - This chickpea dish is served in a spicy tomato sauce and garnished with lots of fresh coriander. The sauce contains chilli powder, cumin and asafoetida, and the dish is served with boiled rice.
  • Laal Maans - This dish consists of tender lamb served in a creamy and spicy yogurt sauce. Lots of garlic and red chillies are used in the sauce. This is a great dish to share with others, as it's served with chapattis and is very filling.
  • Churma - This is a rich and flavourful sweet that's made with semolina, whole wheat flour, dried fruit, sugar and ghee, which is clarified butter. It's eaten with baati, an unleavened bread, and pairs well with a strong, fragrant black tea.

The next time you visit an Indian restaurant, forget the westernised chicken tikka masala and opt for an authentic dish. Your server will be happy to point out the Rajasthani dishes on their menu.